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Review: R.I.P.D

Jul. 19, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is a Boston cop, who's killed in the line of duty by his crooked partner (Kevin Bacon). Having been guilty of corruption himself, Nick is forced to join the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D), where he's partnered with a former old west lawman, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) to police the undead.

REVIEW: A few days ago I complained about RED 2, which coincidentally not only shares a co-star with R.I.P.D (Mary-Louise Parker), but also happens to be the sequel to a movie R.I.P.D's director, Robert Schwentke directed. As bad as that was (and it was BAD) somehow R.I.P.D manages to be even worse, and easily takes the dubious honor of being the summer of 2013's biggest disaster.

Everything about R.I.P.D just goes disastrously wrong right from the first frame, where we jump ahead to Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges pursuing a terribly cheap looking CGI baddie (the undead souls are all poorly rendered CGI ghouls) through Boston, only to zap back a few days to Reynolds' death at the hands of his partner, Bacon. Aspiring to be a mix of comedy and sci-fi action, R.I.P.D doesn't succeed at either, with it coming off as a fourth-rate MEN IN BLACK clone, with the only major difference being that instead of aliens, you get the undead, which are souls that have somehow managed to evade judgement and are hanging out on earth.

The MEN IN BLACK similarities are plentiful, with Bridges playing the grizzled veteran in the Tommy Lee Jones mold, and Ryan Reynolds the smart-ass rookie a la Will Smith. Neither are memorable. Bridges is basically re-creating his Oscar-nominated turn as Rooster Cogburn in the Coen Bros., TRUE GRIT, with the only difference being that this time he doesn't wear an eyepatch. Bridges is saddled with many endless bad jokes about coyotes having violated his dead corpse in the Old West, to the extent that at one point he even sings a song about it. Bridges is a brilliant actor, but you'll feel embarrassed watching him here.

Ryan Reynolds doesn't fare any better. He still hasn't found a really good star vehicle that plays to his strengths. In R.I.P.D he comes off as terribly bland and doesn't have much presence. As bad as Bridges is here, he always has presence. The screenplay at least tries to give Reynolds some kind of back-story, with him leaving behind a wife (Stephanie Szostak) who thinks he's corrupt. He's unable to communicate with her as while on earth he looks like an old Chinese guy (James Hong- that's right- Lo Pan!). Sound familiar? If you ever watched DEAD LIKE ME it should. Jeff Bridges gets to look like a super model (Marissa Miller) although the comedy that you'd expect to be mined out of that is pretty much squandered as when men leer at him, most of the time you see him as Miller.

I imagine a lot of the blame for R.I.P.D is going to go to Robert Schwentke, and to be sure R.I.P.D is a jumbled mess. The action sequences are agonizing to watch, with lots of presumably pricey 3D gimmicks being thrown in to make them seem cool but they never even come close to being memorable. The film is also extremely predictable, and from the second Reynolds is knocked off by Bacon (only five minutes into the movie) it becomes painfully obvious how this is all going to pan out.

What's really a shame about R.I.P.D is the fact that the premise has a lot of potential. If cops from all throughout human existance are being pressed into joining the R.I.P.D why is this world never explored? Other than Mary-Louise Parker as their (naturally) disapproving chief, you never get to know any of the other undead cops. What a waste!

R.I.P.D is bad enough that once it finally comes to an end (with another big action set-piece that destroys most of a city, this time Boston), I felt like I had been sitting in the theater for hours and hours. To my surprise, the movie wasn't even ninety minutes long, but it felt endless. R.I.P.D isn't just bad, as say- RED 2 is. This is the kind of fiasco that seriously damages careers. The big action sequence probably had the studio hoping they'd get another AVENGERS. Well, that's exactly what they've got here- another AVENGERS. Too bad that the AVENGERS movie it's like is not the Marvel Blockbuster, but rather the 1998 flop with Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes. That's pretty bad.

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